Day 26: July 14, 2013
Previous Day
Next Day
Site Home
Trip Home

When I reached US-395, I decided to forego some suggested sights to the north. It was 6:00, I had no idea where I could sleep, and the area was obviously full of tourists. Every campsite in Yosemite was booked and, as I soon learned, so were most nearby motel rooms. I knew nothing of locally owned places so went to my favorite chain. The first Motel 6 I called, in Mammoth Lakes, was full. The one in Bishop had a few rooms and I grabbed one. Good thing, too, as people were being turned away by the time I arrived. The next morning, when I had breakfast at this delightful place I learned of on the internet, I heard that every motel room in town had been occupied. That happens a lot this time of year I was told.

US-6, which originally went to Long Beach, now ends at Bishop. I toyed with the idea of heading east on it but decided to continue south on US-395 as planned. One reason is that I'd like to someday drive US-6 in its entirety, including the decommissioned bit the Long Beach. Another reason is that I turned sixty-six this spring and over and over have heard "Hey, you ought to drive 66 while you're 66". Taking US-395 to near Barstow would let me pick up a healthy chunk of Historic US-66 if I wanted. Silly, I know, but probably no sillier than driving a fifty year old car across the country.

So I headed south through some pretty country on a mostly divided four-lane US-395.

Manzanar, one of ten World War II Japanese Relocation Centers. There were also eighteen Civilian Assembly Centers and quite a few detention centers of various types for disruptive persons and individuals of "special interest" to the government. The Relocation Centers were also known as internment centers and, despite government claims that "these camps are in no way concentration camps" were essentially concentration camps. There were no Nazi style gas ovens and no one starved in the camps but there is no question that the people inside, many of them US citizens, were prisoners. Wikipedia articles exist on Manzanar and the other camps.

Manzanar was a small city. Most of the buildings are gone but the high school auditorium remains and is now a museum. I knew the basic facts about the camps. I also knew some of the stories and some of the faces. For example, I knew that Corvette designer Larry Shinoda had been at Manzanar. The museum provided more faces and more stories and even a few more facts.

But it was driving and walking (just a little) around the camp that made the biggest impression. There are similarities between this and rediscovered Indian pueblos, some of which are not too far away. But people lived here 70 not 700 years ago and they did not do so voluntarily. They were put there by their own government. My thoughts were far from crystal clear and no conclusions were reached but the dust and heat (and probably winter's cold) of Manzanar make a great background for thinking about governments, wars, citizens, immigration, loyalty, and a lot of other concepts.

At the museum, it was explained that some filming was taking place and that we might be asked to be quiet for awhile or wait a bit before entering an area but would not be blocked from anywhere. I saw little evidence of the filming while in the camp itself but spotted this as I drove away. We were told that someone whose mother had been at Manzanar was responsible for the filming so I'm fairly certain that the article here is related.

Back on US-395, the pleasant scenery continued as the temperature rose. At Kramer Junction, I left US-395 and headed to Barstow on CA-58. There were slopes to be climbed which, with the increasing ambient temperature, made overheating the Valiant a concern but never quite a problem.

At some point I came to the realization that four-lane highways are pretty good places for driving a little below the norm. I've typically avoided them in the Valiant because of the perception of higher speeds. But on two-lanes with much traffic, cars and temper can quickly build behind a slower vehicle. An expressway's extra lanes really make a difference.

[Prev] [Site Home] [Trip Home] [Contact] [Next]